From building brand awareness, credibility, and long-term customer relationships to reinforcing the effectiveness of paid advertising campaigns - organic channel activity done right can revolutionise your wider marketing strategy.
Combine organic search being voted as the marketing channel that holds the highest ROI, according to SEJ’s recent twitter poll with over 4.5 billion active social media users - a figure that continues to grow with the introduction of new platforms - and the opportunities available for marketers looking to build their brand in 2023 are clear.
In our latest workshop, ‘Investing in Organic Growth – Maximising your Channels in 2023’, experts Niall McGarry, Founder & CEO of Fabric Social, Helen Hargreave, Head of Content at CreativeRace and Nick Boyle, SEO Director at The Audit Lab shared the common misconceptions around SEO, organic social, and content marketing, how to frame these channels within a wider marketing strategy, and what in-house marketers need to consider when trying to grow their organic performance in earnest.
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With a number of statistics demonstrating the importance of investing in your organic strategy, such as a staggering 67.60% of all clicks on SERPs go to the first five un-paid results, it comes with no surprise that 70% of organisations stated an increase in their organic marketing budget in 2022.
Below, our experts discuss why it’s critical that your business begin prioritising organic marketing activity to avoid falling behind competitors in the new year.
The introduction of platforms like TikTok have totally transformed the social media space, with an outstanding user growth rate, a focus on video-led content and the ability to target a younger demographic – to emphasise this point, 39% of Gen Z consumers say that their purchasing decisions are influenced directly by what they see on TikTok.
Niall highlights that “organic growth is most available at the start of such platforms, however the opportunity for growth on TikTok is still there, if you know how to operate on the platform.
You can’t have the same content that goes out on Twitter and Facebook for example on TikTok as well, because that’s not going to resonate with the same audience. This does create a scenario where you need to create more video-led content.”
Niall also highlights the advantages of using TikTok to reposition your brand against a general audience viewpoint (as seen in the likes of Ryanair), or once you believe your legacy brand has become tired.
With over 80% of marketers stating that video content has helped increase traffic, generate leads and boost sales, it comes with no surprise that investment in video-led content for both B2B and B2C companies has become a rising priority in the new year.
However, a recent study conducted by Statista found that over 40% of organisations still feel they're not using video to its full potential, stating a lack of in-house skills and budget as their biggest barrier.
Yet Niall argues that in today’s age of smartphones, “video content is not at the same price as it once was.”
He adds, editing tools within video content focused apps such as TikTok have improved massively. "So, if you’re producing native content for TikTok, its best to edit within the app, where you can add specific features such as captions and music to actively encourage organic reach.
Therefore, the challenges around video can be nailed through cost effectiveness – you can now shoot content an awful lot cheaper than before, we’re moving into lower production standards that still reflect your brand and nail your objectives, which means quicker turnaround and shorter content.”
On evaluating and maximising your current Organic activity, Nick says, “assess the quality of your existing content based on the purpose it was produced for - ‘don't judge a goalkeeper on how many goals they score.’
It’s fine to push content out about your brand so that you’re not a faceless organisation, but in hindsight this should be created in a way that grows your brand, for example businesses tend to publish blogs as they’ve been told it can help with SEO, but ultimately, we need to figure out what was its purpose in the first place?
So, when evaluating an existing organic strategy, the first place to start is Google search console to see what keywords you’re appearing for to gain an indication of your current visibility and relevancy before looking at the vanity metrics such as Google ranking.”
On building out an existing organic strategy, Helen says, “there are lots of different considerations that you need to make. Firstly, recognise what type of audience you're going after, creating content targeting a B2C client will be completely different to what you’ll produce for a smaller B2B client.
Then you need to consider intent – this can be achieved by conducting keyword research to help understand your audience intent and create your content around that or make your existing assets work a lot harder.”
She also adds considering what kind of content is being served in search engines to get a better understanding of what your audience is engaging with:
A recent survey conducted by HubSpot found that 60% of marketers measure the success of their content marketing strategy through sales, with web traffic taking second spot.
Helen highlights that, “a successful content strategy is being able to map that content alongside a conversion funnel. By firstly identifying the head terms that you want to rank for, at a product level, this may be ‘kitchen knives.’ Then you want a product page to rank for those head terms, that get the volume with the intent to purchase.
Further down, you can create a content strategy that’s a little bit more informational to target those keyword terms that may not carry a huge amount a volume but are still relevant to your audience. Once this is established you can start to think about more top of the funnel step around how we can develop brand."
Niall says “On TikTok and other channels followers don’t necessarily equate to views - you can grow followers, but not necessarily reach those people organically.”
He emphasises that any objectives with your organic content on social media platforms should still support the development of your brand.
“Every brand has a brand platform that they stick to religiously, and going against this for the sake of buffoonery or aiming to go viral on a new platform may discombobulate their brand voice that they’ve built over years.
So, before utilising video-led platforms such as YouTube Shorts or TikTok, you must establish a very clear tone of voice that reflects your brand and the demographic you aim to target.
Gen Z audiences on TikTok want to know who you are, and are good at sniffing out if a brand doesn’t know how to operate in the platform."
Therefore, the goal on such social media channels should be balancing that reputation, engagement, and the right audience.
Nick reiterates the importance of “not getting swept into vanity rankings. Your SEO strategies must be commercially focused, unless the goal is for vanity purposes, but otherwise you want to get a good idea of what a keyword could produce for you, looking at your conversion rate, the potential traffic behind a keyword and potential click through rates from search console.
Over 50% of marketers say keyword rankings and organic traffic are the top ways they measure the success of their SEO strategies, with the click-through rate for long-tail keyword searches about 3-5% higher than generic keywords.
Helen cautions marketers “not to get hell bent on one specific keyword you want to rank for but to think about the broader category. When you’re looking at the success of a campaign and particular product, consider how you move the needle for that category to improve its visibility.
This may be the use of informational blogs, onsite recommendations, or any kind of particular digital PR campaign that's promoting that angle, all of those feeds into one particular category, which makes it easier to see success off those individual KPIs and attribute an ROI to that as well.
Although 'organic' content is often perceived as work that should be kept in-house, specialised marketing agencies can help businesses with their social media and SEO strategies in several ways.
Whether it's support in developing a comprehensive content strategy, providing key data and insights to demonstrate the commercial value of organic activity, or simply optimizing content for search engine rankings, there are plenty of options for dedicated external support.
Nick says, “one big thing to consider is resource commitment - can you honestly commit enough resource to your Organic growth? With agency support or specialist support, you’ve got people literally on tap to write content, who are experienced on aspects such as E-A-T and YMYL.
In a nutshell specialist support is expertise - you wouldn't try and fix your boiler yourself; you’ll get a plumber to do it.”
Niall says, “agencies exist for a reason, it's to bring that third party expertise, I think probably a good analogy to use is that if you have an in-house team, you may need 10% of another 10 people to make your team complete and holistic.
That’s what agencies offer brilliantly in this space - you can get access to experts in motion graphics, TikTok, copywriting, tone of voice or video production etcetera. That's where the agency solution really complements the in-house team.”
He adds, “our job as an agency who is representing a brand is to understand their tone and most importantly understand the audience that that brand is going after. Something that an external partner brings in spades is really understanding what people actually think of your brand."
Helen says, “having that strategic insight is the nature of agencies - we work across several industries, and we have the resource to tap into areas that need supporting. It’s about working both ways with in-house teams in terms of filling a gap wherever needs be.
It's important to have that buy in, and work collaboratively with companies to get to where you need to be.”
If you're exploring investing in organic channels in the new year, make sure you're getting the most from your time. GO! offer cost-free agency recommendations, pitch management, and more - get in touch to get started.